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Conyers hosted a breakfast seminar in Dubai on February 24th to address Cayman Islands restructuring and litigation issues of relevance to those doing business in the Middle East, to an audience of lawyers, bankers, investment houses and other Middle Eastern clients.
The seminar featured Nigel Meeson, Q.C. and Mark Forté, the heads of Conyers’ litigation, restructuring and insolvency departments in the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands, respectively, and Dennis Ryan, associate in Conyers’ Dubai office.
While the seminar focused on Cayman Islands law, the panel also addressed certain British Virgin Islands insolvency and restructuring matters, highlighting Conyers’ multi-jurisdictional capacity in this regard.
The seminar focused on recent decisions and current cases being heard in the new Financial Services Division of the Cayman Islands Grand Court and the BVI Commercial Court. One of the issues explored was how recent changes to the Cayman Islands Companies Law can be used to assist creditors and investors, including in relation to Islamic finance structures. The panel also discussed issues that may arise where assets in the MENA region are held through Cayman and BVI companies involved in insolvency and restructuring proceedings.
Cayman remains the jurisdiction of choice for the establishment of Islamic finance structures, and since the announcement of the restructuring of Dubai World, much more attention has been focused on how investors in such structures, may be able to enforce their rights.
In light of this, one of the issues discussed by the panel was the difficulty of enforcing Shari’ah compliance. There are differing interpretations of the Shari’ah by different scholars, and there is no single accepted source to refer to or clear body of principles which can be incorporated into contracts, which has caused the courts to treat general references to Shari’ah as too vague to be given legal effect This can be troublesome where investors into funds that are expected to be Shari’ah compliant seek a remedy for breach of contract on the basis of noncompliance.
Thus, there was also a great deal of interest from the audience in the potential use of the new oppression remedy in the Cayman Islands Companies Law by such investors.
The MENA region has close links with the Cayman Islands, as recognised by the Premier in his recent visit to Dubai in December 2009. It is anticipated that these ties will be further strengthened through the proposed Memorandum of Understanding between Cayman and Dubai.
Conyers opened its Dubai office in 2006 and provides Cayman Islands, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands and Mauritius legal advice to MENA clients.